Run, Eat, Run: Nutrition Lessons Learned On A Run

Better fueling made a big difference for managing editor Nicki Miller and her training partner Bridget on their run last weekend. Photo: Nicki Miller

Welcome to Competitor.com’s blog dedicated to fueling, running and random thoughts from managing editor Nicki Miller.

A little background: I joined Competitor in 2013 when I moved to San Diego from Massachusetts. Quickly I took on the mantle of nutrition guru and was able to marry a recreational love of cooking and food with dispensing info about running fuel and healthy eating. I was also quickly diagnosed with breast cancer and found that I couldn’t run much for about four months (luckily, it was an early stage, so it was a “bump in the road,” as one doctor put it!). As soon as I had healed enough from the treatments to start building mileage, I signed up for a Women’s Running San Diego Half Marathon on Feb. 22 with two co-workers who are also reclaiming their running form.

So here we are, about five-plus weeks out, and two of us are celebrating a successful 5-mile jaunt around Lake Miramar. We didn’t doubt that we could run that distance, but one week earlier, we had failed to do 4 miles. Bridget and I had gone to the Tijuana Estuary (despite how the name sounds, it’s in the U.S.) because it’s a flat and pretty oceanside nature preserve. We figured 4 miles would be an easy run in that kind of locale.

As we drove to the preserve, Bridget remembered she had forgotten the energy bar she was going to eat en route. Our start was later than expected and I felt as if my breakfast was wearing thin. But we both ignored our tummies and hit the trail. As we ran, Bridget admitted that she hadn’t actually eaten breakfast that day. So here we are, about noon and in the heat of the day (sorry most of you winter folks, but San Diego can get quite hot midday!), and Bridget has eaten nothing while I had a small breakfast about three hours earlier. We cut the run short and Bridget walked the last mile or so.

A week later, we chose a location where we’d have to do the full 5 miles, because the path goes around a lake (genius!). And we talked through our nutrition plan: We’d each eat something (me, toast with peanut butter; Bridget, cereal) before meeting up at my house, where I’d serve up some smoothies with my new Vitamix (thanks to my brother for the housewarming gift!).

RELATED: Are Eggs Good Or Bad?

We both felt nicely fueled up for the run, and alas, we had a good one. This week, we’re doing 7 miles, and while we have the same breakfast plan, we are bringing along some chews for the run to keep the energy level high.

Anyone can have an off day with eating and timing a workout, so it’s important to pay attention to your body and take note for the future.

Tips for Weirdos Like You and Me

I became a vegetarian when I was 15; then when I lived on Martha’s Vineyard, I decided to add seafood to my diet (duh!). I’ve tried different kinds of weight-loss programs and have family and friends who sometimes force their gluten-freedom or lactose-intolerance on my meals. So with each blog, I’ll include something that might help you who have issues too.

Anti Caffeine?
No problem when you drink rooibos tea. I first had it during a safari in South Africa, and its rich flavor is a great sub for a morning cup of joe.

RELATED: The Benefits Of Drinking Tea

Lactose Intolerant?
The frozen dessert Arctic Zero may please your palate. It’s sold like ice cream, in pints and chocolate-covered bars, yet it only packs 150 calories per pint. The flavors are subdued, so think light, icy treat as opposed to thick and rich. (Read: not for ice cream aficionados.)

Vitamix Owner?
I’ve been making smoothies every day since getting my machine around the first of the year. As I’ve tried not to use too much sugary fruit (yum!), I’ve found cucumber adds a subtle flavor, and just a little fresh ginger gives a great zip!

Share your tips and nutrition queries with me in the comments below or on Twitter @nickiontherun, and I might use them in the blog or in Competitor magazine.

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